So, how did I get the best seat in the house, an upper box hanging over the front of the stage? Just lucky, I guess. Sitting next to me at Lucky Guy, a guy from Scotland who married a gal from West Virginia and now makes his home in the states. His first Broadway show. In front of us, a couple from Atlanta, Mike and his six month pregnant wife, Elissa, carrying daughter, Olivia. Their first Broadway show. Which was cool since this was Tom Hank's Broadway debut, too.
I knew I was going to be lucky when traveling from my alma mater Vassar in Poughkeepsie into the city for Lucky Guy, Cinderella stepped onto the Metro North train at the Beacon stop. In her pale blue gown, her hair upswept with a tiara and glitter spray, eight-year-old Courtney with her mother, grandmother, aunt and cousins, was a sight to behold. The second grader told me she had left her boyfriend Hunter at home for a girls night out when asked if she hoped to find her Prince Charming on Broadway at the musical Cinderella. One of the ladies cried out if she were seeking a prince, she'd stop at Princeton. Then it hit me. In my years at Vassar, so enamored was I with Yale, I had missed it. You seek your prince at Princeton! (And some seek their princess there now that it's coed like President Obama and Michelle).
But there's always the Hail Mary pass. Stepping outside after the show, I felt lucky because I noticed for the first time although it has been there since 2004, a restaurant called Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. at Broadway and 44th. What are the odds Forrest Gump would set up shop so close to the theatre showing Lucky Guy? But then, Forrest Gump had that talent of always being in the right place at the right time. He was a very lucky guy.
Nor did it escape me the theatre's location for Lucky Guy is on W. 44th Street. I grew up on W. 44th Street in Parma, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb where everyone supposedly had pink plastic flamingos in their front yards and wore white socks. Oh, to be from Cleveland in those days referred to as "the mistake on the lake" by the rest of the country, who were just jealous.
Having worked in broadcast newsrooms in Chicago and a few fill-in stints in New York in the '80s, I gotta say Nora Ephron nailed it in her Lucky Guy. Having been a reporter herself before becoming a director/screenwriter/playwright and having married newshounds more than once, she got it. Their attitude towards women, they thought of us as broads then, the incessant smoking, boozing and running around, both on spouses and to get the story. No accident this play is at a theatre named Broadhurst.
I would like to say it was a romantic time, but looking back it really wasn't. But Ephron captured it. Perfectly. Especially the scenes between Tom Hanks and his wife played by Maura Tierney.
As it turns out, Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson spoke at Nora Ephron's memorial service last year. It was held on July 9, Tom Hanks's 56th birthday, and he was also born in 1956.
Hanks started his acting career in Cleveland, Ohio at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival (now the Great Lakes Theater Festival), winning an award as Proteus in Two Gentlemen of Verona. He's still in touch with the Festival today, serving as the Honorary Chair for a fundraising effort not too long ago.
Maybe Hanks's interest in outer space had some Cleveland roots, too. The NASA Glenn Research Center, named for the Ohio astronaut and US Senator from Ohio, is located in Cleveland where my dad worked for 32 years. Who can forget Tom in Apollo 13 as Commander Jim Lovell? Astronauts Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, Sen. John Glenn and Jim "Houston, we have a problem" Lovell -- all Ohio guys, too. Lovell was born in Cleveland. Lucky guy.
Ohio, known as the Mother of Presidents (eight of them), and the home of astronauts and also beauty queens, more than any other state can boast. Not to mention a darn good football team making its home in the state's capital city of Columbus. How about those Ohio State Buckeyes?
Yes, Bob Hope, Clark Gable, Clevelanders Paul Newman and Phil Donahue (St. Edward's High School), the Golden Bear golfer Jack Nicklaus, all call Ohio home. So, Ohio and Cleveland in particular,are claiming Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, too. Lucky guy and gal.
P.S. As for that mistake on the lake stuff. Cleveland has since gotten the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame sitting pretty on the shores of Lake Erie because rock 'n roll started at WJW Radio in Cleveland with deejay Alan Freed. Also sitting near the lake, that world famous fixer of broken hearts, the Cleveland Clinic helping us lucky guys and gals, to rock on!
P.P.S. It has been said luck is when preparation meets opportunity. So get lucky and snatch that opportunity to see Tom Hanks in his Broadway debut, Lucky Guy, before it closes on July 3rd!
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